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Northwestern Plateacompiled by LoZompatore
Here is another load of contributions for yellowdingo's map. As usual, take everything below as a suggestion, feel free to drop or change anything as you like. Feedback and comments are welcome.
I sketched my notes on yellowdingo's map (of course this is just a draft ;) ) I added rivers, a dozen of settlements and a few landmarks. Hope they help!
A note about technology transfer: I think that the constant spilling of technical knowledge from the Dyr valley should create a sort of "tech vs. distance" pattern in the land surrounding the elvish territory. That is, the valley (itself an early steam-age civilization) is surrounded by renaissance level settlements, which are surrounded by medieval-like "countries", which in turn are surrounded by iron age cultures. The iron age people could be surrounded by the bronze age settlements common to most of Platea. Such a geographical pattern in technology level is not concentric: natural barriers would of course hinder technology transfer along their sides. In particular, the great mountain chain stretching north and west of the valley of Dyr could have blocked any technological spill toward those directions.
Ar'ack and The Race: this could be a steep, winding, canyon inhabited by large nests of dangerous flying beasts. Griffons and thunderheads are a common sight above the canyon: many of them are charmed by a large group of harpies who gathered there and built the nest-like village of Ar'ack. Harpies usually have the charmed monsters hunting for them; sometimes they assemble a large group of flying beasts and raid the halfling villages in the southeastern forest. The canyon is called "The Race" because travelers had better spend as little time as possible in it. While not impassable (especially during nighttime), it is very dangerous crossing unprotected - or leaving too much clear tracks - in the most exposed stretches of the canyon. The Race actually is a major hindrance to anyone wanting to reach (or leave) the smugglers' village of Nazaniir: it also indirectly helps in keeping Nazaniir's location a secret to most people.
Ar'ack is an almost unapproachable village of some 250 harpies. It is built in the middle of a nearly vertical wall of rock the harpies themselves polished very carefully in order to discourage unsolicited visitors; the nearest grip large enough for a man (or a halfling) to stand is some 250 yards away from the village, in every direction. Ar'ack is built as a giant, rounded nest, with many holes leading to individual chambers and common spaces. Trunks and spikes protrude from the structure, used as giant perches by harpies. About half of the available room space was actually built in a tunnel complex winding inside the mountain just behind the external nest: there is an internal water source and this is where food stocks and harpies' eggs are kept.
The villages of the Qualixa: Zodel (pop. 1700) Naralagh (950) Darrixor (850) Imarige (700) Venbrenoz (650) Lomidassa (600) This is a loose confederacy of five halfling villages - and a small town - placed along the forest border closer to the Race and to the harpies' village of Ar'ack. "Qualixa" is a local halfling word meaning something like "Mutual defense pact". In fact, the very essence of this "country" started from and agreement between the villages which stated to help each other (basically in relief efforts) against aggressions from harpies and their flying beasts and to share any intelligence or knowledge useful to fight such a menace.
Halflings of Quelixel share an iron-age technological level (mostly due to knowledge spills from the smugglers' village of Nazaniir), all villages are heavily defended walled communities built in the underwood below the giant trees of the area. Nets and ropes are stretched above the buildings to impede flying, while a network of underground rooms and tunnels connecting most buildings in every village is used to store supplies, and to shelter halflings, ponies and cattle from aggression. Buildings are made of bricks and stones (no wood or inflammable materials at all), roofs are made of tiles - a few wealthy buildings show also a layer of wrought copper above them. Rudimentary metal lightning rods are placed above every roof and high place all around every village: they are effective in dispelling or diverting lightning attacks from the thunderheads. A whole set of throwing weapons (usually poisoned) is used as a more active countermeasure against flying riders.
Quaeromore Tyranny's settlements: (NOTE: I developed yellowdingo's nice idea about a petty tyranny just east of Ilsunsyl's gate. Quaeromore is the name of the "country", Nixdoodle is the name of the halfling's clan who inhabits the area).
Settlements: Zainas (pop. 850), Januza (600), Pertixil (500). This is a group of three agricultural halfling villages which act as collector points for farming products of the whole valley (which accounts for a total rural halfling population of about 25000 people). Moreover, the fortified village of Zainas also collects revenues from trade between Ilsundyl's Gate and the southern forest. The three villages have an early Middle Age technological level.
The tyranny is quite old (it was founded before Quelinzel and Xaleris settlements were established). It was born when the Nixnoodle clan, pushed west by aggressive cat-like people (rakastas) from the mountains found itself cornered at the valley's end, in front of Ilsundyl's Gate. Quaeromore the Tyrant was then elected as a desperate move to unite and repel the aggressors: it worked but him and his successors never gave up their powers anymore, to the point that the country now holds the name of its "founder and savior". The tyranny once possessed the fledgling village of Quelinzel, but its fast technologic development and political pressure from the elves (who liked a more democratic buffer state just in front of Ilsundyl's gate) forced Quaeromore to accept the village's independence. As most food trade is directed to Quelinzel - where food is traded to Ilsundyl's Gate or processed and sold back to the villages - more than a tyrant wanted to take back the village. Menace of Dyr's military intervention and subtle manipulation from the wood drakes (who do not like to see Quelinzel's technology spreading to Quaeromore) prevented any violent action, so far.
Relationships between Quaeromore and Xaleris to the south are of cold (and sometimes hot) indifference. Both countries share the same attitude and life of style: Xaleris' territory is less populated and a little less advanced than Quaeromore but the keep is (well) built in an easily defensible position, and the secret help from the wood drakes would impair any serious effort on Quaeromore side to conquer the southern land.
Velbyluna: (pop. 550) An iron-age halfling village of fishermen which acts as the main gate to the river from the northwestern mountains of Platea and a local market for the about 7000 farmers of the eastern plains. Velbyluna's fishermen are also skilled boatmen, they reach as north as Zainas and push themselves deep in the forest to the south. The village is formally under the influence of Xaleris, which keeps a small garrison in the settlement and collects taxes on farm products and river trading activities. In truth, the village is quite far from the keep, and most of its established ties go to other communities along the river further to the south. With their help, Velbyluna's people raised a countryside local militia strong enough to drive away Xaleris' guards, if needed (and local Xaleris' guards are well aware of it). As a result the settlement is mostly self-governed. It actually elects its leaders, while most "edicts" from Xaleris are bypassed or blatantly ignored.
Feyrge and its Dam: This is a typical Dyr elvish village of 900 people. It was once much larger, as enterprising elvish engineers and their workers settled there, wishing to build a copy of the fabled "hydroelectric power plant" of their lore. After many years of consultations and designs, the river was temporarily deviated and the building of an impressive dam begun a few miles upriver. When the builders were partway through completing the work - and a large lake was forming behind the dam) a sudden series of accidents and faults happened (they were secretly and carefully arranged by the wood drakes throughout the building phase, to the point of persuading a water elemental family to dwell in the lake in exchange for some "favors"). Even if many patches were attempted by the engineers - a few of them actually worked - the final status of the dam was so unreliable that it would have been cheaper to build another dam elsewhere rather than fixing the remaining damage and adding the power plant. By then, political will in Ilsunsyl's Gate was changed and the workers were sent to other, more urgent, activities. Since then, Feyrge's inhabitants used the lake as fishing reserve and the dam as a bridge across the valley and as a sightseeing point.
The Shining Lake: A lake which was filled with nuclear waste when the upriver experimental nuclear reactor of the Dyr elves melted down. It slightly glows during the night and it could harbor many strange creatures that evolved there in the following centuries.
The Waterfalls of Dyr: Ilsundyl's Gate is built just upriver to a set of medium sized waterfalls along the Abin river course. The waterfalls offered a natural barrier for any invader coming from the east. The impressive iron walls of the city just increased such protection.